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Education Bookcast

Education Bookcast is a podcast in which we talk about one education-related book or article per episode.
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Now displaying: January, 2017
Jan 2, 2017

This episode serves two purposes. On the one hand, I want to go over some more ideas from Jane McGonigal's book, as it is so rich in fresh and original ideas (they're fresh to me, anyway).

On the other hand, I would like to go through a pointed criticism of the book entitled Jane McGonigal's Mind is Broken written by Edward Champion. Given how much I got from her book, I am surprised that there are people who are so strongly against it. I think it is good to go through it in the name of balance, though I can't pretend that I share Edward Champion's opinion, or believe that his piece is particularly well argued.

Enjoy the episode.

 

Jan 2, 2017

Jane McGonigal is a game designer who believes that, in many ways, games bring out the best in people. The reason for their popularity, she claims, is that they satisfy fundamental human needs. This leads, for example, to the highly insightful and completely counterintuitive notion that a big reason for people playing games is that it makes them feel productive.

She peppers her book with reality "fixes" - comparisons of games with reality, where games come out on top, and lead the way to a better future. Here is a full list of those fixes.

  1. Unnecessary obstacles: Compared with games, reality is too easy. Games challenge us with voluntary obstacles and help us put our personal strengths to better use.
  2. Emotional activation: Compared with games, reality is depressing. Games focus our energy, with relentless optimism, on something we're good at and enjoy.
  3. More satisfying work: Compared with games, reality is unproductive. Games give us clearer missions and more satisfying, hands-on work.
  4. Better hope of success: Compared with games, reality is hopeless. Games eliminate our fear of failure and improve our chances of success.
  5. Stronger social connectivity: Compared with games, reality is disconnected. Games build stronger social bonds and lead to more active social networks. The more time we spend interacting within our social networks, the more likely we are to generate a subset of positive emotions known as "prosocial emotions."
  6. Epic scale: Compared with games, reality is trivial. Games make us a part of something bigger and give epic meaning in our actions.
  7. Wholehearted participation: Compared with games, reality is hard to get into. Games motivate us to participate more fully in whatever we're doing.
  8. Meaningful rewards when we need them most: Compared with games, reality is pointless and unrewarding. Games help us feel more rewarded for making our best effort.
  9. More fun with strangers: Compared with games, reality is lonely and isolating. Games help us band together and create powerful communities from scratch.
  10. Happiness hacks: Compared with games, reality is hard to swallow. Games make it easier to take good advice and try out happier habits.
  11. A sustainable engagement economy: Compared with games, reality is unsustainable. The gratifications we get from playing games are an infinitely renewable resource.
  12. More epic wins: Compared with games, reality is unambitious. Games help us define awe-inspiring goals and tackle seemingly impossible social missions together.
  13. Ten thousand hours collaborating: Compared with games, reality is disorganised and divided. Games help us make a more concerted effort - and over time, they give us collaboration superpowers.
  14. Massively multiplayer foresight: Reality is stuck in the present. Games help us imagine the future together.

The book has many case studies and psychological experiments backing up the points that it makes. Overall it reads like a sort of manifesto, but for me, the most important thing was the way in which it explained things about people that I never realised before. It gave me a new perspective on human motivation, on learning, and on myself. I hope you will gain from it as I did.

Enjoy the episode.

Jan 2, 2017

Malke Rosenfeld is the creator of Math in your Feet, a program to teach students mathematical concepts through the medium of dance. (Really!) She does school workshops and teacher trainings, and now has a new book, Math on the Move, describing her approach and the theory behind it. We talk about interdisciplinary learning, embodied learning, liking vs. hating maths, and attitudes to "alternative" teaching methods.

Malke herself, like many people, never really "got" maths while she was at school. After getting involved in the percussive dance scene, she one day woke up to the possibility that "surely there's math in this". From there, she went on to develop her unusual, and potentially controversial, but certainly fun, pedagogy.

She draws on the ideas of Seymour Papert from his book Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas, and on modern neurological research showing the extent to which we think through our bodies, and have to understand things in many ways for them to really sink in.

Enjoy the episode.

Jan 2, 2017

Today we have an interview with Sargy Letuchy, a public school teacher from Chicago, who has produced some materials to help other teachers with standards-based learning. The Visual Edge is a workbook of graphic organisers for K-12 teachers in the United States. Along the way, we also discuss some other pertinent education topics.

Enjoy the episode.

Jan 2, 2017

Depending on what counts as knowing a language, I speak anything between 7 and 12 languages, namely:

  • English, Polish, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, Russian, and Persian well;
  • Hungarian to a lesser extent; and
  • Georgian, Armenian, Lithuanian, and Tibetan in the past, now mostly forgotten.

Besides this, I have some knowledge of classical languages (Latin, classical Chinese, and ancient Greek); one constructed language (Esperanto); and there are a couple more languages that I've had a smaller amount of exposure to (Turkish and Maltese).

I think that my experiences may be worth sharing to a general audience interested in education, and in teaching and learning languages in particular.

First, I recount my story. How did I get from bilingual child to adult polyglot? Secondly, I talk about my methods for learning, Finally, I share some lessons learned from my experiences.

This episode does not make use of references or scientific studies, but just relates my personal experience. It is a case study that gives a sense of what it feels like and how it works to learn numerous languages. I hope that you can take something useful from it.

Enjoy the episode.

 

music by http://www.podcastthemes.com

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